Jeffrey Hamelman’s Five Grain Levain

This is one of my all-time favorite breads, and judging by the reactions I got when I served it as rolls at the party last weekend, it’s a big hit with others as well. I like it best in roll form, partly because it freezes so well that way, so that’s what I have documented here, although I’ll give you bake times for loaves as well. Jeffrey Hamelman is a Certified Master Baker and Bakery Director at King Arthur Flour. (I buy all my flour at King Arthur, by the way, and highly recommend it.) I’m always pushing Peter Reinhart’s bread books on you because I think his books are the absolute best for beginner bakers, but my other favorite bread book is Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. It comes off a bit more advanced than Reinhart’s books, and with recipes scaled for both bakery and home use, it seems aimed towards very serious bakers, but he does have some really great, well-written chapters on technique – it just lacks all the pretty pictures Reinhart’s books have. I’ve never made a bad loaf of bread from this book, and every single one has come out of the oven crackling and beautiful.

Because I found this recipe on The Fresh Loaf and several other websites, I decided it was okay to share with you. But I must repeat that this is an excellent book, and if you make and like this recipe, I highly recommend you buy the book.

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Five-Grain Levain

Liquid Levain Build

8 oz (1 7/8 cups) bread flour
10 oz (1 1/4 cups) water
1.6 oz (3 Tbsp) mature sourdough starter * –> I explained how to make your own here, and you can also buy it from King Arthur Flour, which is actually where my current starter came from, which I guess means I’m baking with the same starter Hamelman is!

* I can’t vouch for the flavor because I’ve never done this, but if you are dying to try this bread and don’t have a starter and aren’t interested in growing one, you could use 1/4 tsp yeast here and essentially make a pâte fermentée. Also, I use more starter than what Hamelman calls for here. Instead of just 1.6 oz, I use half of my current starter so I’m doing a regular feeding of it; this is about 4 oz. Because I do this, I reduce the instant yeast in the final build somewhat.


2.9 oz (5/8 cup) cracked rye (when I don’t have rye, I use millet, as I have done with this bake)
2.9 oz (5/8 cup) flaxseeds
2.5 oz (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
2.5 oz (3/4 cup) oats
.2 oz (1 tsp) salt
13 oz (1 5/8 cups) water, boiling

Final Build
1 lb, 8 oz (all of above) soaker
1 lb, 2 oz (all less 3 Tbsp of above) liquid levain*
1 lb (4 3/8 cups) high gluten flour (you could try using bread flour if you can’t get high gluten)
8 oz (1 3/4 cups) whole wheat flour (I usually use white whole wheat)
.6 oz (1 Tbsp) salt
.1 oz (1 tsp) instant dry yeast
8.4 oz (1 cup) water

* The reason Hamelman calls for “all less 3 Tbsp” of the liquid levain is he expects you to reserve that 3 Tbsp to perpetuate your starter; however, since I’ve already saved half of my starter, I just include all of the liquid levain build in my final build. I have to make small adjustments in my final build – namely a little less water and/or more flour – to account for this.

The night before baking, build the liquid levain by mixing together all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover (I use a plate to save on plastic wrap) and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 16 hours.

Also the night before, prepare the soaker by mixing together all the dry ingredients and then covering with boiling water and stirring well. Cover and let sit at room temperature with the levain.

My covered bowls:

Here is the levain the next morning, nice and bubbly:

On baking day, place all ingredients, including the soaker and levain, in the mixing bowl.

I had a helper. Remember on the first day we got the kittens I said I thought Torticia might end up taking Tigger’s place as my kitchen assistant? Turns out I was right.

If kneading by hand, stir until it comes together, then knead for probably about 10 minutes (Hamelman doesn’t even assume you’ll be doing this and I’ve never tried, so I’m guessing here). If using a mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes, adjusting the water or flour as necessary. You want a fairly tacky dough; it may seem pretty wet, in fact, if you aren’t used to high hydration doughs.

Then mix on the next highest speed for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.

As this dough is a bit sticky, I spread a very light layer of flour on my workspace …

… then dump the dough from the bowl onto the flour, pulling it into a nice ball and coating it very lightly with the flour to make it easier to handle.

At the risk of looking like an advertisement for King Arthur Flour, here is my dough in their Dough-Rising Bucket, which I find indispensable for rising large batches of dough. Of course you can also use a large bowl, covering with either plastic wrap or a large plate as I demonstrated above. In either case, spray lightly with oil, then put the dough in.

Let rise for either 1 hour or 1 1/2 hours. (Although he doesn’t go into detail in the recipe, the difference in rising time would be due to different ambient temperatures; you’ll require longer rises in colder rooms.) If 1 1/2 hours (which is what I always do regardless of the temperature), stretch and fold after 45 minutes. This is how you do a stretch and fold: Remove the dough from the bowl and stretch out like this:

Fold it like a letter, that is, fold 1/3 down towards the middle …

… and then the other 1/3 up towards the middle …

Then stretch it out in the other direction …

… and repeat the process.

Return to the bowl (folds down) and let rise for the second 45 minutes. It should about double.

Remove the dough and shape. This recipe makes three 1.5 pound loaves, which you can shape into round or oval freestanding loaves. You can also make larger loaves. My favorite, though, are rolls. I divided the dough into 16 pieces about 5 ounces each.

Then I formed rolls by pulling together the dough on the bottom and forming a seam, pulling the dough so the surface is taut on the opposite side. This is hard to describe and photograph, but both Hamelman and Reinhart do a better job than me in their books. This roll is upside down (seam side up). The other side should be smooth and full of surface tension.

I panned 8 to a tray (now they are right side up – seam side down).

Cover and proof for an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.

To bake, I steam the oven by placing 1 cup of hot water in a cast iron pan (which I have devoted to this exclusive use) I keep on the bottom rack of my oven. If you don’t want to do that, spray the rolls with water and/or spray the oven walls with water just after loading the rolls. I had to bake each half-sheet pan separately, but you can bake 2 (possibly 3 if your oven is large) loaves at a time. Rolls take 20 to 25 minutes, 1.5 pound loaves 40 to 45 minutes, larger loaves a bit longer. Don’t underbake this dough; the seeds retain a lot of hydration and it takes extra time to bake. It should be a dark golden brown. One of the biggest mistakes most novice bakers make is not baking long enough; they get nervous when they see dark browning. I had to train myself to let my crusts get darker than I thought I wanted them to be. I think I read somewhere that you should bake bread until the crust is as dark as you expect it to be, then let it bake five more minutes. I could have let these get even darker.

Let cool for at least an hour (maybe 45 minutes for rolls) before slicing. Don’t be tempted to ignore this step! The cooling process is nearly as important as the baking process and you can ruin a loaf by slicing it too soon. For most of the breads I make, keeping Mark from slicing it too soon is the hardest step!

The crumb:

Simple sandwich of perfectly ripe tomato from the farmer’s market, freshly ground salt and pepper, and a little Vegenaise. Heaven!

If you freeze these, we’ve found that microwaving them for 30 seconds at normal power to defrost is perfect. There is little to no taste difference between fresh and frozen, so I love making a batch of these on the weekend and having “fresh” rolls on weeknights or for lunches for the next few weeks.

The kittens went outside (on leashes!) yesterday, but this has been a long, photo-heavy post, so I’ll fill you in on it in a later post, which will be soon because I’m cooking up something special today.

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Kaiser Rolls

When I was in high school, I worked in a local grocery store. It was the cool place to work; everyone in my high school worked there. When I applied, I assumed that like all of the other female teenage employees, I’d become a cashier. I was a little disappointed when they told me I’d be working in the bakery, because I thought I wouldn’t see all my friends, all the females of whom were cashiers. It didn’t take long for me to realize that working in the bakery was the very best assignment possible. The bakers, who all started at some obscene hour like 4 a.m., went home about half an hour after my weekday shifts began, which meant I was working with no supervision all night long. Shortly after I started, one of my best friends applied to work in the bakery with me and was also hired, which meant we spent every night goofing off, decorating donuts with cake icing and putting them out to sell, decorating cakes with our own ridiculous drawings, and chasing around and being chased by the produce guys, whose back room was connected to ours. I guess we somehow managed to do our work as well because I got along very well with the bakers, with whom I did have to work on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

This is me behind the bakery counter, selling my donut wares.

This is my friend, Dawn, looking at me through a cart of “trayed-up” frozen rolls. We had to do “tray-up”, which involved lining frozen rolls and breads on trays, putting them on a cart, and pushing them into the freezer, every night. I used to leave the bakers stories about the Tray-up God on the backs of the tray-up checklists. I’m very curious now to know what the heck I wrote, but one of the bakers told me at the time she saved them all. I’m sure they were ridiculous.

Anyway, if you’d have told me when I worked in the grocery store bakery that I’d one day consider being a baker, I’d have called you crazy. I couldn’t fathom the hours, for one thing (really, I still can’t), and it just didn’t seem very me, as much as I did like my after-school job. Culinary arts weren’t something I aspired to or had any interest in. Then when I went vegan and started teaching myself how to cook, I tried baking bread a few times and never had any success, so I gave up for several years, although I did get a bread machine. Eventually I got tired of the bread machine – it made funny shaped loaves and the paddle kept coming off and getting baked into the bread – and I tried my hand at baking by hand again. This time I for some reason had success, and after baking several breads from recipes off the internet, I got The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic by saying it changed my life, but in a way it did, because I always thought I just didn’t have a knack for bread, but after buying that book, I did have a knack for it. Or, more likely, Peter Reinhart is just really good at teaching bread baking, even through a book. And his breads taste amazing. If you have any interest in bread baking, I can’t recommend his books, particularly this one, enough. After my huge successes baking nearly every bread in that book and his others, I fell in love with it so much I have considered working in a bakery – baking this time, not washing dishes and arranging frozen rolls on trays.

We’re not doing much for the Fourth of July this year – just hanging out with the kittens and taking care of some stuff around the house – but I usually try to at least loosely follow tradition for holiday meals, so I decided I’d make homemade veggie burgers today and I decided to make Peter Reinhart’s kaiser rolls for them. These kaiser rolls taste amazing. They are definitely the best kaiser rolls I’ve ever had. I never fail to think of the frozen kaiser rolls I used to tray up in high school and always think how much better these are.

I’m normally hesitant to publish Peter’s recipes because I really do want you to buy his books, but I found the following online in several places (including Google Books). The only change I’ve made is I substituted En-R-G egg replacer for the egg he calls for, though I suspect you could just leave it out entirely. Also, I doubled the recipe in the book, which made six rolls, because if six rolls are good, a dozen is even better. They freeze well. The measurements below are Peter’s original for 6 4-ounce rolls, but you’ll see my doubled measurements in the pictures.

Finally, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Weigh your ingredients. If you are at ALL interested in baking, buy a scale and use it. I’ve included the volume measurements because I’m a nice gal, but it is very hard to consistently measure ingredients – especially flour – by volume.

Peter Reinhart’s Kaiser Rolls
From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Pate Fermentee
5 oz (1 1/8 cups) all-purpose flour*
5 oz (1 1/8 cups) bread flour*
.19 oz (3/4 tsp) salt
.055 oz (1/2 tsp) instant yeast
6-7 oz (3/4 cup to 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) water

* Peter says you can use all all-purpose or all bread flour if that’s all you have, but that this combination seems to yield the best results.

8 oz (1 1/2 cups) pate fermentee (half of the above recipe)
10 oz (2 1/4 cups) bread flour
.2 oz (3/4 tsp + a pinch) salt
.17 oz (1 tsp) diastatic barley malt powder OR .33 oz (1 1/2 tsp) barley malt syrup
.11 oz (1 tsp) instant yeast
1 Tbsp En-R-G egg replacer + 4 Tbsp water, whisked
.75 ounce (1 1/2 Tbsp) vegetable oil
5 – 6 oz (10 Tbsp to 3/4 cup) water
poppy and/or sesame seeds, for topping

The night before baking, make the pate fermentee. I didn’t take pictures of this, but all you need to do is add all the dry ingredients to the bowl of your electric mixer (or a regular bowl if mixing by hand), then add 6 ounces of the water and mix on low speed or stir for about a minute until everything comes together in a coarse ball. Add the extra water if there is loose flour left over. Then mix on medium speed for 4 minutes, or knead by hand for 4 to 6 minutes, until the dough is, in Peter’s words, “soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky”. Lightly oil a bowl, roll the dough in the oil, then cover the bowl with a plate (in lieu of the plastic wrap Peter calls for). Leave the bowl out at room temperature for an hour or until the dough has risen to 1 1/2 times its original size, then refrigerate overnight or up to three days.

When you are ready to bake, remove the pate fermentee from the refrigerator.

Remove it from the bowl and use a bench cutter (or a serrated knife) to cut it into about 10 small pieces.

Cover with a tea towel and let come to room temperature for an hour. When the hour is up, add the flour, salt, malt powder, and yeast to your mixing bowl. Add the pate fermentee pieces, egg replacer, oil, and 5 ounces of water.

Mix on low speed for a minute (or stir by hand) until it comes together in a ball. Add the additional ounce of water if there is still loose flour.

Mix on medium speed for 6 minutes (10 minutes by hand), adding flour if needed, to “make a dough that is soft and supple, tacky but not sticky”. I like to finish it off by hand for a few seconds for a smooth dough.

It should pass the windowpane test.

Lightly oil a large bowl – I use this dough rising bucket from King Arthur Flour – roll the dough around in the oil, and cover with a large plate or lid.

Let sit at room temperature for two hours. If the dough doubles before two hours are up (mine had doubled at one hour) …

… remove it from the bowl, knead very lightly to degas (you don’t want to “punch down” dough as old recipes tell you to do; it’s too harsh), and return it to the bowl.

When the two hours are up or the dough has doubled again …

… remove the dough and divide it into six 4-ounce (or nine 2 2/3-ounce for small rolls) pieces. Because you may have had to add flour or water when kneading the dough, I like to weigh it before dividing, then divide the weight of the dough by the number of rolls I want. I’m always very excited when the dough weighs exactly what it should. Mine weighs exactly 48 ounces! (Remember, I doubled the recipe.)

Here I am weighing the individual rolls.

I was surprised, however, when the last roll weighed in at only 3.75 ounces, even after I’d weighed the first eleven twice each and they were all exactly 4 ounces. What this tells me is my scale is not as precise as I’d like it to be. I just took about .05 ounces off the five rolls that looked the biggest and added it to the runt.

Form the pieces into individual rolls. To do this, pinch the dough together on one side …

… creating and smoothing a seam, whilst creating surface tension on the opposite side.

Turn over and smooth into a round with your hands, seam side down.

When all the rolls have been created …

… cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment or a Silpat and misting lightly with oil.

Shape the rolls into kaiser rolls by using a kaiser roll cutter or by using this shaping method. (It was very hard for me to get pictures of this, so I suggest you read the book for a much better explanation.) Roll each roll into a rope about 8″ long.

Tie the rope into a simple knot.

Tuck the ends of the knot into the middle of the roll. (I didn’t get a good picture of this.) Tray the rolls, cut or prettier side down.

Cover with a couple of layers of tea towels and let rise for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit at this point. Turn the rolls over. If you want to seed your rolls, mist lightly with water and sprinkle with poppy and/or sesame seeds.

Cover again, and let rise for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until doubled from their original size.

Peter recommends spraying the walls of the oven with water just after putting the rolls in, but I used a different technique of his and instead poured 1 cup of hot water into a cast iron pan I keep on the bottom shelf of my oven. If you go the water-in-pan method of creating steam, make sure the pan was preheated with the oven. Put the rolls into the oven and steam using one of those methods, then bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, rotate to the pan and reduce the heat to 400 degrees, then bake another 15 to 30 minutes for large rolls (less for small rolls), or until golden brown.

Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Here are the veggie burgers I made; I baked them in the toaster oven.

A closeup of one of the rolls …

… and the crumb.

And here’s my burger …

… and my whole meal.

As you can see in the last picture, I also made Bianca’s deviled eggs, and they are amazing! They really do taste like the real thing and were at least as easy to make.

I probably can’t get away without posting any kitten pictures, but since this has been such a long, photo-heavy post, I’m going to restrain myself to just one.

Okay, two, because Gomez started to yawn and it was funny.

I hope all of my fellow Americans had a happy and safe Fourth of July.

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VeganDad’s Meatloaf

I’m definitely through with that pesky nausea. I’ve been eating like a champ. In fact, I seem to be eating even more than usual, possibly to make up for all the calories I missed when I was ill. Also, the Mid-Atlantic is currently suffering wild weather fluctuations, which is fairly typical for May but still annoying. This pattern has been on repeat for a couple of weeks: Saturday it was in the 80s and sunny – I got sunburned driving around in my convertible – then Sunday was mild and cloudy, Monday was cool and rainy, and today it is DOWNRIGHT FREEZING. So between my recently ravenous state, an invigorating swim this afternoon, and an unseasonably cold and rainy day today, this evening’s stroll through my starred Google Reader posts for dinner ideas ended with VeganDad’s Cajun Meatloaf: hearty comfort food fits the bill.

VeganDad’s recipe calls for 2 packages of tempeh and I only had one. I did have, however, leftover grated Tofurkey Italian sausage links, which I’d used in lasagne on Sunday and really wanted to use up. So after looking over VeganDad’s recipe, I went into the kitchen and figured I’d just throw together what I had in a dish “inspired by” VeganDad. Later when I went back to look at his original, I realized I’d actually followed it pretty faithfully, so I’m not taking any credit for this. But believe me, I’d like to: the texture was perfect. This was probably the most successful “meatloaf” I’ve ever made. Not that I’m surprised – VeganDad’s recipes are always a guaranteed success, aren’t they?

Here’s what I used:
1 package tempeh
about 2 links Tofurkey Italian sausage links
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup whole wheat panko
about 1 cup marinara sauce (also left over from the lasagne and needing to be used up)
2 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
several strong shakes Tabasco (to appeal to Mark, who has been drinking eating about a bottle of this stuff every other day lately)

For the glaze:
3/4 cup ketchup
6 Tbsp brown sugar
several more strong shakes Tabasco
pinch salt

I used a mini-chopper to grate the sausage, tempeh, garlic, and onion, and I just whisked the glaze together without cooking and glazed the unbaked loaves. I baked them covered at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour, then uncovered for another 20 minutes or so. I wasn’t really keeping track.

I also loved VeganDad’s “individual meatloaf” idea, which makes for easy serving. I made 8 fist-sized, egg-shaped individual loaves and put four into each of two small glass loaf pans (see first photo). I served with roasted potatoes, peas, and some kale chips. Tonight was the first time I’ve ever made kale chips, which is weird (why haven’t I made them before today?) but true. I was surprised that I didn’t love them – I found them bitter – although I compulsively ate them despite not really liking them, which is strange.

Last night I got to attend an artisan bread baking class with Peter Reinhart.

I tend to get so caught up in the picture-taking process that I don’t pay real attention to what’s going on in front of the camera, and I didn’t want to miss anything Peter said, and I didn’t want to be obnoxious, so I didn’t take my “real” camera. All I got, therefore, was this iPhone picture, which I had to crop.

I wish I had a better picture or two, but I’m actually glad I didn’t take my camera because I know myself and I know I would have missed a lot of what he said if I’d been messing with it. If you ever have a chance to attend one of Peter’s classes, I strongly urge you to do so. He’s full of knowledge, he’s so enthusiastic about bread, he’s funny, he’s nice, and he just genuinely wants to teach others everything he knows. Very inspirational. What I liked and disliked about the class is probably completely backwards from everyone else in the class though! The one bad thing about the class? The bread! I knew this going in, of course, so I wasn’t surprised, but most of the loaves he made were from enriched dough, which means milk, butter, and/or eggs. I’ve mentioned that I was a tester for his new book, Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, so I have made just about all the loaves he made in the class (the only one I didn’t test was the challah, which I felt had too many eggs to warrant a vegan’s perspective on testing), and I know they are all DELICIOUS. But of course, although he says in his books you can use non-dairy milk, etc., he wasn’t using it in the class, so I had to pass on all the samples except the French bread. This was heartbreaking because they smelled and looked soooo good. I was especially drooling over that babka that he’s glazing in the photo, because my vegan rendition of it was amazing (use silken tofu for the eggs). In fact, I’m going to have to make it this weekend.

What I liked most about the class was all the things that went wrong. Which may sound weird, but hear me out. I’m a fairly experienced baker, and I’ve made most of Peter’s breads, and often everything goes exactly as it should. But it’s not unusual for something to go wrong. So what I got the most out of during the class was watching Peter adapt to problems that arose. I think you learn much more from mistakes than you do perfection. The ovens in the classroom were terrible: they baked unevenly and not at the temperature on their knobs. Undaunted, Peter showed us how to deal with that: by rotating the loaves, covering them with aluminum foil, telling us at what point in the baking process it was safe to lower the temperature of the oven. That’s the sort of thing it’s hard to learn from books, which tend to assume perfect conditions. The doughs were mixed the day before by the store’s staff, and the first batch of lean dough (which is what I could eat) didn’t rise well and didn’t spring much in the oven, and basically came out dense and not what Peter was going for. Which was too bad because I was really hungry for that sample after jealously having to pass on the thumbprint rolls and sticky buns. But that gave Peter the opportunity to discuss what might be wrong with it and how we would avoid or deal with it. (After trying a single bite of the finished loaf, he realized the problem was too much salt. I scarfed down my sample anyway.)

And I know I’m really going to seem perverse, but my favorite moment was when he broke the Kitchen Aid mixer. Okay, it very well may have been having problems before he used it (I’m sure it wasn’t really his fault), and I’m sure he uses Kitchen Aids in just about all of his classes without incident, but I’ve mentioned a few times how many problems I have had trying to mix dough in a Kitchen Aid mixer (as I mentioned in just my last post, I destroyed two of them in a year), so I felt vindicated seeing Peter struggle with one as well. My reaction to my final broken Kitchen Aid was to (make Mark) buy Hieronymous, the trusty Bosch Universal Mixer, but I really liked having the opportunity to see Peter react to a broken mixer. Which was basically to not react: he happily mixed the dough by hand. What’s great about the recipes in Artisan Breads Every Day is, with the refrigerated fermentation method, you barely need to knead, so a mixer isn’t really saving you that much time or effort anyway. Peter removed all of the fear of hand mixing that I somewhat irrationally have by showing how easy it really is. So I’m glad the mixer broke. For those recipes, it’s probably not even worth dirtying Hieronymous.

Well that’s my probably-overlong review of the class. Peter’s touring around the States a bit right now; if he shows up in or near your town and you like bread at all, I definitely recommend you go.

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